The Marketing Associations & TRA’s first Brainy Breakfast of 2023 kicked off on a beautiful Auckland morning. The attraction of a delicious breakfast and even more delicious content was too much for many marketers and agencies to refuse. We were not disappointed by the delectable buffet and piping hot coffee at the Hilton Hotel – the bircher muesli was a personal highlight.

Marketers take to networking like ducks to water, and despite the early call time, the conversation was buzzing. So, kicking off with a warm welcome and scene setting from Rufus Chuter (Managing Partner, Together), we went headfirst into the world of Retail Media.  

World is the operative word for the keynote speaker Tom Langley (Head of Personalisation & Retail Media) from John Lewis Partnership, who was live in London.

As we held our breath for any tech hiccups, a sigh of relief was heard as he appeared on screen seamlessly. Retail media in the UK is growing into its adolescent phase, and Tom is well placed to share his learnings. His two key outtakes from the UK market:

A question the suppliers may face is, ‘who is the right talent to sell this stuff?’. According to his experience, publisher-side experts are best placed to sell retail media offerings well. Largely because they understand the complexities between more traditional media offers and of merchandising.  

Secondly, the importance of collaboration - as we face economic headwinds and pressures as an industry from the walled gardens, retail media suppliers should work together to grow. As a market expands, there is often oversupply – Tom notes that standardisation will help make the industry more accessible for many brands/agencies.

Enter the local New Zealand players.  

They were all there; Alex Lawson, Product Owner – Market Media at the Warehouse Group, Samantha Osborne, General Manager at Cartology and David Brem, Head of Foodstuffs Precision Media.

Much talk about rules/lessons/learnings, but what was refreshing about the content, while great to hear how each varied their offerings, was that there was more that unified them in terms of industry ambition and direction. The highlights:  

I. The importance of Win-win-win models
When you put the customer at heart, everybody wins —a call to arms around planning for the customer experience first. This is not about bleeding the margins on CPMs.

II. A need for better measurement
This was identified across the board as the critical factor in maturing the NZ retail media industry, which almost all speakers echoed. Proving incrementality of their offering is top of the list, along with working with brands/agencies to understand the bits out of their control.

III. Building and growing non-endemic  
FMCG is not the be-all and end-all for most agencies in the room. Working with non-endemic brands is a journey most speakers noted they are only starting. Their focus is mainly on the best experience for a customer, weaving in messaging for other categories such as finance, auto, or travel must be carefully managed.  

IV. Working together for better success
Set up at the top of the session by Tom, all the local suppliers were met with questions on how they might build a better industry together. The discussion around a union or industry body featured heavily, so the desire is there.

The talk ended with a positive outlook, and we left appetites wet for all things retail media, but the proof will be in the bircher! 

Written by
Bridget Bucknell-Whalley
Head of Strategy & Planning, Together